Starting for Gophers would be Pirsig's big move

  • Article by: CHRIS CARR , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 22, 2014 - 6:43 AM

Moving a 6-foot-9, 320-pound guy to a place he doesn’t want to be can’t be easy. Jonah Pirsig is hoping Matt ­Limegrover won’t even try.

A week from kickoff, ­Pirsig has played his way off the bench and into a starting spot on the Gophers offensive line. The sophomore tackle is hoping his strong preseason play will persuade his offensive coordinator to leave him right where he is.

Starting left tackle Ben Lauer has a high-ankle sprain, and in the shuffling, Pirsig wrapped his big paws around the starting right tackle ­position.

“I’m going to do my best to keep that spot once Ben gets back,” Pirsig said. “It’s all about competition from there on out.

“Coach [Jerry] Kill and Limegrover always say the best five will play, it doesn’t matter what position. … At this point, I think I’m in that group of five, so I’m just concentrating on staying there.”

Josh Campion held down the right tackle spot when training camp opened, but he headed west to left tackle when Lauer went down. That opened the door for Pirsig. With Eastern Illinois (Thursday) and Middle Tennessee State (Sept. 6) the first two opponents, Limegrover & Co. could play it safe and let Lauer get to 100 percent, giving the Gophers’ biggest player and one of the program’s biggest 2012 recruits his first collegiate start.

“I’ll have crazy butterflies in my stomach,” Pirsig said. “And even right now, being a week away, I’m kind of nervous. But I’m sure after that first play all the butterflies will go away. It’ll just be about playing football.”

Playing football was the goal this week, after a couple of nagging injuries temporarily derailed Pirsig’s push to be a starter. He “tweaked” his groin last week but said Thursday that he’s back to full speed.

“We’re banged up, but it’s Week 3 [of camp],” Limegrover said. “Everybody is going to be banged up.”

Limegrover said the team is being “cautious” with Lauer. “He’s made some progress, done some things, but at the same time, [if] you rush that back, you might be right back at square one.”

Limegrover and Pirsig, from Blue Earth, spent time in the film room this preseason while Pirsig was healing, studying his pass blocking and technique against an edge rush. Back on the field this week, he had fresh legs and is prepared to prove that he can live up to the hype that followed him to campus.

“Right now,” he said, “is a good opportunity for me to show the fans that I wasn’t a waste of a scholarship.”

Fruechte feeling good

The Gophers have at least eight players who could see playing time at receiver — from freshmen to seniors with hundreds of plays of experience. Isaac Fruechte is the latter, and he’s eager to leave a strong legacy in his last season.

“I definitely am excited,” he said. “Hopefully I can contribute in any way I can and try and help the team win. Hopefully get into that Big Ten title game and win a bowl game.”

As a junior, Fruechte, from Caledonia, caught just 13 passes, but his best game statistically was the last one: He had three grabs for 41 yards in the bowl-game loss to Syracuse. He will be pushed for playing time, especially considering the four talented-but-raw true freshmen in camp. But even as he competes, Fruechte doesn’t forget his senior leadership role.

“I try and help the young guys,” he said. “Make them feel at home, that’s a big thing for me.

“[Competition] is a good thing for us, it pushes us, keeps us motivated. Bringing in talent guys, you see how raw they are, how athletic they are — you see that you really gotta come to work.”

  • related content

  • Chart: Gophers' offensive line shuffles

    Thursday August 21, 2014

    Line shufflingPreseason injuries and improved play have led to more movement than expected on the offensive line. Here’s a look.LT LG C RG RTWhen...

  • Gophers get committment from Georgia WR

    Thursday August 21, 2014

    Almonzo Brown, from Suwanee, Ga., picked the Gophers, despite also receiving offers from Florida, Iowa, Georgia Tech and Kansas State.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 3 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 2
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Dallas 117 FINAL
Orlando 92
New York 80 FINAL
Toronto 83
San Antonio 87 FINAL
Houston 96
Miami 104 FINAL
Memphis 98
Minnesota 113 FINAL
Chicago 112
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Utah 100
Sacramento 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
Denver 112 FINAL
Golden State 119
Portland 99 FINAL
LA Clippers 89
Dallas 3 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Colorado 7
Carolina 3 FINAL
Edmonton 6
Columbus 1 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 11:00 AM
UAB 11:00 AM
Rutgers 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 11:00 AM
Texas 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 11:00 AM
Memphis 11:00 AM
North Carolina 11:30 AM
San Jose St 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 1:00 PM
Akron 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 1:00 PM
Ohio U 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 1:30 PM
Oregon State 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 6:30 PM
So Carolina 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 9:45 PM
Nevada 10:59 PM
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 1 FINAL
Chicago 2
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 6:00 PM
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




question of the day

Poll: Who wins and loses in football this weekend?

Weekly Question